Thursday, November 4, 2010

Handmade Gifts- Soft Block for Baby

For Christmas this year I'm hoping to go as homemade as possible. Store bought gifts are fun, for a while, but homemade ones are heart to heart! Homemade gifts are sentimental, personal. They just mean more. :)

My nephew just turned 1 and I made him one of these for his birthday. He had a ball (pun intended) tossing it around, and since it is soft there were no bonked noggins and no sad faces. :) Now I'm thinking of making these for Christmas for all the babies on my list.

Step 1. You'll need to cut out 6 squares of your selected fabric.
Make sure they are as close to perfectly square as possible. You will have to zigzag or serge the edges of each square so it doesn't unravel if you do not use pinking shears. It doesn't really matter how big your squares are, as long as they are all the same size. You probably want them to be at least 4" though. 6" would make a nice big block and be easier to work with.

Step 2. Sew ONE side of each of 4 of the squares to EACH side of 1 of the squares, leaving the 6th square unattached for now, as shown:
The square in the middle will be the "bottom" of your block and the 4 attached to it will be the "sides."

Step 3. Sew the SIDES of the SIDE BLOCKS to each other to form a box:
Remember to always sew with the right sides of the fabric facing each other so your pretty seam is on the pretty side of the fabric.

Step 4. Now you're going to put the "lid" on. You can press open the side seams to make it easier to work with.
Now sew your 6th square onto your "box," leaving one side open:

Step 5. With block right side out, iron all the seams as shown to make the block more square.
Then iron under the edges of the open side to make it easier to sew up later.

Step 6. This step is optional, I just like to do it because it helps the block to be more block-y looking and then I can use the machine to sew the hole closed after stuffing instead of hand slip-stitching it closed. It also re-enforces the seams to help prevent them from coming unraveled with rough play.
Sew as close to the edge as possible along all the seams as shown in the picture above. Do not sew the block closed accidentally or you won't be able to stuff it! ;)

Step 7. Stuff your block with polyfill, making sure to arrange the stuffing in the block with your fingers as you go in order to make it most block-like. Don't stuff it too full if you plan to machine sew it closed! In fact, if you plan to machine sew it closed, leave enough room near the hole for the block to fit under the sewing machine's foot. You can pinch and squish the polyfill around to "fix" the empty spot once the block is sewn closed.

Step 8. Pin the hole closed and sew it closed as shown.
If you skipped step 6 then you'll want to hand slip stitch it closed instead.

This was only my second one so the seams are not real pretty... I need more practice! ;) It didn't help that my 2 year old kept reaching up and pushing buttons that would adjust the tension, needle placement, etc. as I was trying to sew. Lol! I'm sure it would look a lot fancier if I didn't have any "help"... hehe... But it's cute in a handmade toy sort of way anyway I think.

This post is linked up to the following where you can find more handmade gift ideas:
4 Moms, 35 Kids; Christmas Craft Linky
Click to see other posts in this blog carnival or add your own!
Raising Homemakers; Homemaking Linky

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Heart Of Christmas ♥ Homemade Gifts ♥ Keeping CHRIST in Christmas!

Click to see other posts in this blog carnival or add your own!

Every year as the weather gets wetter, the leaves get brighter, and the air gets a bite of chill to it, I start thinking about my favorite time of year: Christmas! I remember my childhood Christmases. We were poor in money but rich in love and what I remember about Christmas isn't Santa or Presents, it's the SMELL of cinnamon and pine, the beautiful nativity set, the inspiring music, the sound of family gathered, the taste of cranberry sauce, and laying underneath the tree looking up through the branches at the lights and just soaking in the joy. That's what I want to pass on to my kids! Not greed or materialism. Not Santa-worship. Not cartoons and movies that have no foundation on The Rock. Every year I want to make homemade things as gifts but get distracted and then don't get anything finished in time. Every year since becoming an adult, despite my best intentions to keep the focus where it belongs and not get lost in the stress; somewhere along the line I loose my focus and have a panic attack, start resenting the to-do and to-buy lists, forget what it's really all about. I always need a reminder to get me back on track. I need to make it a point to not get caught up in worrying about making everything perfect and forget that the things aren't what makes Christmas CHRISTmas. What makes Christmas CHRISTmas is keeping our eyes on Jesus.
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33
Last year I decided what better way to stay motivated and focused on the TRUE heart of CHRISTmas than a fun interactive bloggy carnival with all of you! What do you say? Want to join the fun?

Welcome to The Heart Of Christmas 2010 link up! There will be ONE linkup for the whole season here in this post, at the bottom. Every time you have a relevant post you may link it here, any day from now until January 7th. You must link back to this post in each of your participating posts. You may link back in text, or by including the button in the post. You may add the button to your blog's sidebar if you would like to help draw more participation, but it's not required. You may link up old posts, even posts you linked up last year, as long as they contain a link back to this post: i.e. the updated button code (can't use last years- it goes to last years linky which is closed! Must use this years from this post!) or post link to get visitors back to THIS 2010 linky in case they wish to view the other entries and/or participate.

What to put in your posts (you can use any one, several, or all of these ideas in each post):
-Something about how you stay focused on Jesus.
-Something you have bought/made as a gift for someone, or a link to an idea for a project you would LIKE to make for a gift. Don't forget to give credit where credit is due for patterns, ideas, tutorials, etc.
-A Christmas recipe.
-Talk about one of your family traditions, why you do it and what it means.
-A sweet Christmas memory.
-Anything else that is related to the HEART of Christmas, having a sweet and thankful spirit, handmade with love, giving, helping the needy, avoiding getting stressed out, avoiding focus on money and gifts, seeing Jesus as the bringer of every good and perfect gift, etc.
-Check out last year's entries for more ideas!

We want to avoid posts that encourage complaining and stressing, focus on money/Santa/gifts (commercialism), and "keeping up with the Jones'."

I will try to post a Heart of CHRISTmas post at least once a week and link it. You may link a post every week, or every day, or just once or twice. You know I'd love it if you linked often of course... Lol! But I know you can't post if you don't have something you feel like posting about. ;) So just join in when you want to. :) There is not a specific day of the week to do this. Just come here and link up each time you have a qualifying post.
1. Write a post that falls within the guidelines above. (Or you can use an old post of like a Christmas craft or recipe or gift idea.)
2. Include this button (or a text link back here) in your post. If you would like, you can put it in your blog's sidebar too to draw more people to share with us. Use the code provided which links the button back here so people can browse the other participating posts.
Click to see other posts in this blog carnival or add your own!
3. Add your post to the MckLinky below so others can find it from here! :) Please include the name of your blog and most importantly the title of your post in the "Name" field when linking. LINK DIRECTLY TO THE SPECIFIC POST, not just to your blog in general. For example my first link will not go merely to - it will instead be a specific link to a specific post; Make sense? Link to the post, not the whole blog.
4. Browse the other posts in the MckLinky list to see what others are doing for CHRISTmas 2010. We all love comments so if you'd like to leave some love for the other participants we'd be ever so excited! :D

November Giveaways! 
First, here are some awesome giveaways I have found! Check back frequently as I will be removing the ones that are over and adding new giveaway links as I can! Please click on a date to see a few select giveaways ending on that date. (If date is not clickable, I have not selected any giveaways to feature for that date yet.)
Giveaways By End Date:
November01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
December01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Linky Time!
••For more places to list your giveaways click HERE
Your turn! :) MckLinky up!
In the space that says Link Title, remember to include 3 things: YourBlogName - Giveaway Title [End date]. Does not have to be in that exact order but I do need all three in some order or another please. Link to the giveaway post specifically, not just to your blog in general.
PLEASE make sure you follow these easy instructions so it is easy for me to maintain and easy for people to view and use. Alot of people have not been doing this and it makes maintaining the list much harder and more time consuming for me. This is not an unreasonable request in the least: most giveaway linkups require this same format. You can use proper format and copy and paste it the same (proper) way to all the linkys you use. If this gets too hard for me to maintain due to people not doing this as I have asked, I will stop fixing them and have to instead delete any that I don't have the time to fix. So you see why it's not only courtesy but is also important to use the BlogName-GiveawayName[EndDate] format. (In any order. You can do End Date - Blog name - Giveaway or Giveaway - End date - Blog name or whatever as long as they are all in there.)
ALSO please note: I will immediately delete any entries that are innapropriate and further links from that blog may be deleted if I don't have time to screen them. A good way to look at it is if you wouldn't want your 13 year old daughter to have one or read the review in your words then DON'T LINK IT HERE. This is supposed to be a family friendly blog and when I've got people posting giveaways for 'romantic props' or something it is extremely embarrassing and upsetting to find that on my blog where my friends' innocent children could see it.
Your link WILL BE DELETED IF it links to a post that:
**Contains profanity, nudity, or inappropriate inuendo.
**Does not contain a blog giveaway.
**Endorses abortion, divorce, adultery, or things that are anti-God, anti-moral absolutes, anti-ten commandments, etc.
**Endorses a product/company that endorses abortion, divorce, adultery, or things that are anti-God, anti-moral absolutes, anti-Biblical commandments, etc.
**Is not appropriate for an innocent child to view.
This is what I believe in, and to allow links on my blog that go against that is something that I cannot do in good concience.

Entries will stay on the list until they expire (until the giveaway ends).
I will try to delete expired giveaways often to keep this list fresh and easy to view.
I will create a new list each month. This MckLinky list will run November 1st-30th. Check back December 1st for a new list.